Plans are coming together for the biggest change on Michigan Avenue since the Farwell Building was skinned, de-boned, and patched back together as the pedestrian face of the Ritz-Carlton Residences.
Burberry plans to temporarily vacate its flagship store at 633 North Michigan Avenue while a new flagship is built in its place. The London clothier still hasn’t nailed down a date for the move, but we hear the timeframe, already delayed more than once, is starting to look like July. Moreover, we have been told that Burberry’s temporary quarters will be virtually across the street.
Technically, the new space is part of The Shops at North Bridge (520 North Michigan Avenue), but it’s in the Marriott building and does not have an interior connection to the main mall, so it retains the appearance of a standalone Michigan Avenue boutique. The current occupant is Kooky Kidstuff, but once the children leave, it will be all Burberry.
It’s going to be a tight squeeze for the tartans and trenches. Burberry’s current building, erected in 1937, has about 9,000 square feet of retail space, plus room for stock in the basement. A quick breeze through of the Kooky space reveals that it is significantly smaller.
Size is, of course, the reason for the change. Burberry’s diminutive two-story box looks positively out of place amid the towers of the city’s main shopping district, and even though it is a flagship store, stock has to be limited because there just isn’t room.
The current shop will be replaced by a five-story building (plus basement) that will be the largest Burberry store in the nation. It will be almost, but not quite, up to the fashion house’s global standard for flagship locations.
The word “almost” is key here, because Burberry had to make the building less flashy, and more Midwest milquetoast to get approval from the city for construction. All of the company’s lead boutiques are supposed to look like the one that recently opened in Beijing (pictured). But see those faces above the doors? Those aren’t banners. They’re video screens. That’s a little too Vegas for Chicago. Six-foot-tall iPhone video screens are OK down the way at the Apple Store. But 40-foot video screens are right out. They have been eliminated from the Chicago version of the store’s design, and replaced with windows.